Year : 2014  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 20-24

Between pain and pleasure: Pregnant women's knowledge and preferences for pain relief in labor, a pilot study from Zaria, Northern Nigeria

1 Department of Anesthesia, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Elizabeth O Ogboli-Nwasor
Department of Anesthesia, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria
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Source of Support: Funding is partly from the IASP Developing Countries Education Grant 2010,, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1658-354X.144059

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Background: Pain relief in labor remains a hot topic and these debates get louder by the day as more women become aware of their rights to better quality of care in labor. This study was conceived in a background where the practice of pain relief in labor is evolving and where women are seeking to fulfill their need for pain-free labor. Objective: To investigate the knowledge, utilization and preferences of methods of pain relief in labor by expectant mothers in order to design a labor analgesia program. Materials and Methods: A questionnaire-based descriptive study involving 124 antenatal clients in a teaching hospital over a 1 week period. Descriptive statistics were carried out using SPSS for windows version 17. Results: The mean age of clients was 28.8 years (standard deviation = 5.17) with median parity of two and mean gestational age was 31.5 weeks. Majority of the respondents (47.9%) were of Hausa/Fulani ethnicity and 97.6% had primary school level education. Majority (87.3%) had heard about pain relief methods with the hospital being the source in 79% of cases. The most common method ever heard about was epidural analgesia (69.4%). Only 4% (n = 5) of respondents remembered ever using any form of pain relief agent in labor, of which three received parenteral opioids. In their current pregnancies, 45.2% consented to the use of pain relief in labor; of which, epidural analgesia was preferred by 92.9% (n = 52). Fear of adverse effects on self and infants were cited as reasons for non-consent by some respondents while others had no reason. Conclusion: The study reveals a high awareness of pain relief methods which is not matched by utilization and low knowledge about side-effects, although fear of side-effects is a factor for under-utilization. There is a need to educate adequately as well provide high quality pain relief services in labor in order to dispel with myths, misconceptions and fears associated with the use of methods of pain relief in labor.

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